porcini tagliatelle s'mores rice krispies treats crab porcini mac and cheese pan pizza


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archive for baking

summer wonders

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Recipe: crab porcini mac and cheese

July and August meld together for me as one long hot month. I tend to put my head down and muddle through with a lot of ice water, watermelon, and popsicles. But August 1 always stands out as it is Kris’ birthday. She would have turned 54 on Saturday. I arranged flowers, made somen noodle soup, and called my mother to cheer her up.


miss you, love you



Our big excitement was getting out to see comet Neowise in mid-July. Skies were touch and go in the evenings thanks to a sudden influx of moisture and clouds over Colorado. But mountain weather keeps you on your toes and we were able to see the comet with the unaided eye! I photographed it from various locations with decent dark skies. I hope many of you were able to get out to view the comet, but if not, here are a couple of my captures.

close-up of comet neowise and two distinct tails (the white dust tail and the blue ion tail)

neowise reflected in the lake as it set behind the mountains



Did I mention it was hot? It’s still hot and it’s getting hotter this week. On those days that we didn’t venture out on the trails to let the pups wade through cold mountain streams, we thought they might enjoy some baby pool time. We hadn’t pulled the pool out in 5 years (since Neva was a wee pup and peed in the pool) and were curious to see how Yuki reacted to this concept. She seemed leery of it at first, then fascinated, then took to jumping in and out of the pool with an occasional pause to quench her thirst (from the pool). It was like a giant water dish she could stand in and simultaneously take a swig from.

what the hecc?

a moment of blissful stillness



When we hiked into the high country, we sought out solitude, views, wildflowers, wildlife, and swimming holes. With so many putting their typical summer activities on hold due to the pandemic, our mountain trails have been inundated with throngs of people – plenty of whom aren’t wearing masks or respecting physical distance. Instead of dealing with that idiocy, we’ve been frequenting the lesser known local trails and tackling home tasks that have been on the to-do list forever. Our guest room is now a second office since no one should visit us while the pandemic is ongoing.

yuki side-eye and a view

mountain meadows sprinkled with color

magenta paintbrush

larkspur

lounging moose

neva dives in while yuki looks on



And it looks as if it might be porcini season. Even the mushrooms appear to be uncertain about this year. I can’t really blame them as much of the state is in drought and last year’s astounding flush is a tough act to follow.

found this early bolter all alone



Still, if there are any porcini to be found and foraged, I have lots of recipes for them. I made this crab porcini macaroni and cheese last summer with my abundant haul. This rich and decadent dish goes a long way, which means you might get to enjoy the leftovers the following day. Use whatever pasta shape you like. Macaroni works, of course, but I happen to like small shells, penne, or pipe rigate (pictured below), too. I realize fresh porcini can be difficult to find, so you can substitute whatever edible mushroom you like.

pepper, milk, cheddar, bread crumbs, salt, gruyère, pasta, butter, flour

crab legs, fresh thyme, fresh porcini



**Jump for more butter**

greening

Sunday, May 10th, 2020

Recipe: easy strawberry cake

I’d like to say that social distancing has made me more aware of my natural surroundings, but that would be a lie. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the greening of our wild spaces since February, watching for every hint of spring’s arrival. And by greening, I mean the sprouting of tiny buds and leaves and shoots. I could go either way at this point: four feet of snow or full frontal mushroom flush.


morning fog condenses on mountain pasqueflower fuzz

hello wild (feral) asparagus season



As I’ve said before, I don’t mind self-isolation because I like staying in the mountains. We considered our bi-monthly trip to the flats a chore of necessity – that is until the asparagus spears started popping up. It isn’t simply the allure of finding “free food” because you should know by now that “free isn’t free”. Part of it is the thrill of foraging, but also the forensics. I don’t just pick and go, but study the ghosts of the previous year, make note of growth patterns, and recognize where stalks have been cut, torn, or chewed.

the sweetest stalks

sautéed asparagus, snap peas, morels (from last year), on homemade tagliatelle

tempura fried asparagus in a mushroom sushi roll



On the sewing front, I spent a little time prototyping a hybrid of the Olson and pleated mask designs and finally settled on one that achieved my goals of fit, function, and ease of production (because I am not a skilled sewist). I posted a 10-minute tutorial on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B__igaYlJoz/ if you are interested. That took forever, but I am hoping the effort will help others make masks for themselves and those who need them.

a recent batch of masks



There hasn’t been a lot of sugary baking going on in our house during the pandemic. It’s mostly been dog treats and cooking savory meals. But now that sweet, red strawberries are arriving in markets, I can get on board with something like a simple cake studded with those red gems.

flour, strawberries, vanilla extract, vegetable oil, sour cream, sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt

dice half of the strawberries and slice the other half



**Jump for more butter**

not a pita

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

Recipe: sourdough pita bread

It’s already February and I can’t help but feel a slight panic that winter is nearly over. Technically we’re only halfway through it, and snow season for us can last into June or July if we’re lucky. This season Jeremy and I made a pact that we would stop being powder jerks and make a point to regularly ski groomers, uphill, Nordic, backcountry – anything active with more focus on cardio. It’s been great, and when we hit those high pressure systems that leave us with more ice than snow, we grab some miles on the treadmill or indoor bike trainer.


when there isn’t snow, these two happily fetch/chase



We celebrated Chinese New Year quietly at home with traditional dishes. I kept it simple and allowed myself a few shortcuts (frozen dumplings and bao) for sanity’s sake as we were packing up to head to Crested Butte.

symbolic foods for good luck, fortune, health, and happiness

sweet red bean bao in the morning

a nice view of mount crested butte

week old powder holds up nicely around here

diffuse light and long shadows



This past Saturday, Yuki turned two years old. It’s hard for me to think of her as anything other than a puppy because she is such a baby. We celebrated with goodie plates: raw beef, beef meatballs, bacon, Parmesan crisp, unsweetened whipped cream, and their usual homemade dog treats decorated with sugar icing and naturally colored sprinkles. It’s been such a joy to watch Yuki learn, grow, and become more confident while maintaining her playful, silly personality. We love her so very much.

our birthday girl

monster candles seemed appropriate

pawty time!

the pups burn those calories and then some

skate ski in 3°f



The night before, our low temperature dropped to -27.3°F and the high for the day never cleared 4°F. I don’t know about you, but that kind of cold is a great excuse to bake and run a hot oven. A couple of years ago, shortly after I had received my sourdough starter, I split some off to give to my friend, Amanda. We were both new to the sourdough game and stood around discussing different foods you could make with sourdough starter. She mentioned homemade pita bread and told me there is no going back once you’ve eaten fresh baked pita. Amanda assured me it was easy to make, so I figured there must be a sourdough version.

sourdough levain, bread flour, whole wheat flour, sea salt, water, olive oil



The sourdough levain should be fed at 100% hydration. If you’re new to sourdough, the 100% hydration means the starter was fed with equal WEIGHT (not volume) water and flour. The wild yeast in the starter needs to have enough time (usually 8-12 hours at room temperature) to digest the new food and produce carbon dioxide bubbles. When the levain is ready, all of the ingredients get mixed together. You can knead the dough by hand or with the dough hook of a stand mixer.

the bubbles indicate the levain is ready

combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl

i used a dough hook to knead the dough



The dough will feel smooth and elastic after 4-5 minutes in the stand mixer or 8-10 minutes of kneading by hand. Place it in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest until doubled in size. This can be anywhere from 2 hours in a very warm room to 24 hours in a very cool room (64-68°F). I let mine go for 24 hours because our house is always cold in non-summer months.

let the dough rest in a covered greased bowl

doubled in size



**Jump for more butter**